Oct 062009

Rwanda is sort of odd as a tourist definition. Its main city, Kigali, is a fairly clean, temperate, and orderly city by African standards, but it’s spread out over several hills and valleys with no tourist-friendly mass transit system. Of course, apart from the genocide museum, there’s not much to see in the city. It does have many quality hotels and restaurants (it even has a casino), but these mostly cater to the foreign ex-pats living and working in the country.

Rwanda’s main tourist attractions lie outside the central capital, in the further corners of the country. To the east is Akagera, the portion of the country most similar to Kenya and Tanzania and home to the elephants, giraffes, hippos, crocodiles, et al. that one would expect to see on a safari. To the southwest is the lush rainforest of Nyungwe Forest, and to the northwest Parc National des Volcans, which is home to Rwanda’s share of the volcanic range that runs through the Rift Valley section of middle Africa. (Rwanda’s volcanoes are all extinct, but some of the ones on the other side of the border with the Democratic Republic of Congo remain active.) Meanwhile, running along much of the country’s western border is Lake Kivu, a sizeable lake separating Rwanda from the DRC. Several cities and towns dot the Rwandan coastline, including Gisenyi to the north.

Unfortunately I never made it to Akagera. By the time my schedule settled down it was too late to research and organize affordable transportation. (Nothing in Rwanda is more than a few hours away from Kigali, but unless you are prepared to take local buses or matatus, which still requires figuring out, the other options are to take an organized tour or organize your own transport. I think the latter, especially if you join up with others, makes the most sense. Private car rental may be possible in Kigali, but for sanity’s sake it probably is a better idea to hire a driver with a car.) But for the second weekend we headed to points west.

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 Posted by at 9:55 am